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PNFS: Wake in Fright


Wed 25 Apr 2012, 5:30pm
Wed 25 Apr 2012, 8:00pm

Where: Downtown Cinemas, 70 Broadway Ave, Palmerston North

Restrictions: R15

Ticket Information:

  • Waged membership: $85.00
  • Unwaged membership: $70.00
  • Triple feature card: $30.00
  • High school student: $30.00
  • Additional fees may apply

Listed by: Ross Stevenson

Directed by Ted Kotcheff
Australia, 1971, 114mins (R16)

The trailer:

A brilliant, graphic picture of outback mateship on a bender, Wake in Fright is an exhilarating blast of righteous alienation penned in the '60s and a legendary, hard-to-see classic of '70s cinema.

Brit actor Gary Bond is John, a cool handsome young blade from Sydney, working out his Education Department bond in an outback school. He’s heading home for Christmas when he’s stuck in Bundanyabba (actually Broken Hill) at the mercy of the belligerently hospitable locals. “All the little devils are proud of Hell,” explains Donald Pleasence, as the town’s alcoholic doctor (and living health warning to educated blokes).

The orgy of booze, brawling, gambling, and brutal sex is realised with stunning credibility by Canadian director Ted Kotcheff: the actors—young Jack Thompson is prominent—are scarily into it. The notorious kangaroo hunt—a drunken rampage of destruction—is as shockingly exciting as long-reputed in this superb digital restoration. – Bill Gosden, NZIFF 2010

John feels disgruntled because of the onerous terms of a financial bond which he signed with the government in return for receiving a tertiary education. The bond has forced him to accept a post to the tiny school at Tiboonda, a remote township in the arid Australian Outback. It is the start of the Christmas school holidays and Grant plans going to Sydney to visit his girlfriend but first, however, he must travel by train to the nearby mining town of Bundanyabba (known as “The Yabba”) in order to catch a Sydney-bound flight.

At "The Yabba", Grant encounters several disconcerting residents including a policeman, Jock Crawford (Chips Rafferty), who encourages Grant to consume repeated glasses of beer before introducing him to the local obsession with the gambling game of two-up. Hoping to win enough money to pay off his bond and escape his "slavery" as an outback teacher, Grant at first has a winning streak playing two-up but then loses all his cash. Unable now to leave "The Yabba", Grant finds himself dependent on the charity of bullying strangers while being drawn into the crude and hard-drinking lifestyle of the town's residents.

In addition to the film's atmosphere of sordid realism, the kangaroo hunting scene contains graphic footage of kangaroos actually being shot. A disclaimer at the conclusion of the movie states: Photography of the hunting scenes in this film took place during an actual kangaroo hunt conducted by licensed professional hunters. No kangaroos were expressly killed for this motion picture.

Did you know?
The movie had been out of circulation for decades because the negative went missing, sparking an international search. After a ten-year quest veteran Australian producer Anthony Buckley finally tracked it down in mid-2004 in a Pittsburgh warehouse, inside a shipping container marked "For Destruction".

Two screenings 5.30pm and 8pm at Downtown Cinemas.

Members only. Palmerston North Film Society Membership is available at the door before each screening and lasts for one full year.

Restaurants to book near PNFS: Wake in Fright